Rwanda today accelerated its fight against rotavirus, the primary cause
of deadly diarrhea in young children, when it became the fourth African
country to introduce new rotavirus vaccines only recently made available
to developing countries. Rotavirus is the primary cause of diarrhea in
children. In Rwanda, diarrhea accounts for approximately 23% of child
"Rotavirus is a threat to children everywhere in the world, but in
countries where children often lack access to treatment for the severe
dehydration rotavirus can cause, the disease can be a death sentence,"
said Dr. Mathuram Santosham, co-chair of the Rotavirus Organization of
Technical Allies (ROTA Council). "We applaud Rwanda for taking this
important step, and expect that it will have a significant impact on the
lives and health of Rwandan children."
Nearly 50% of all rotavirus deaths occur in Africa, where access to
treatment is limited or unavailable. Improvements in water quality and
sanitation that stop many bacteria and parasites do not adequately
prevent the transmission of rotavirus.
"Once again, Rwanda has demonstrated tremendous leadership in the fight
against the leading childhood killers," said Dr. Ciro de Quadros,
executive vice president of the Sabin Vaccine Institute and Co-chair of
the ROTA Council. "They have set an example for other countries on the
African continent - and throughout the world - to follow."